Actually, it started last night (perhaps on the Jewish schedule, by which 'tomorrow' starts at sundown), when I sat down for the bi-monthly (or is it semi-monthly? twice a month, anyway) Balancing of the Checkbook and Paying of the Bills. In order to get current information on my bank account, I connect to the bank's website. That also enables me to cross-talk between Jen's account and mine, so that funds will actually be in the account from which they will be drawn, in the course of managing our financial affairs.
But last night, our wireless router was, um, being un-cooperative, taking forever to make connections, and then crashing randomly, invariably at the precise moment when I just needed to check one thing before I moved on to the next item. So, what should have been maybe an hour's work, ended up taking nearly three hours. Of course, there was also the trip to the ATM, to deposit a large wad of cash that really needed to be in my bank account, rather than in my sock drawer, only to find, when I got there, that I had forgotten my wallet, and thus, my access card to the ATM. So, back in the car, return home, get the wallet, and actually make the deposit on the second attempt. And so it went. I was completely brain-dead; one of those times when you go to another room to fetch something, then, when you get there, you forget what you were after, so you go back where you started, thus prompting yourself to remember, and in fact, to recall one other item you need from the same room, so you go back to the room, and get the first item, but forget the second one. . . iterate ad infinitum. . .
So, this morning, I left the house, bound for work, right on the edge of being late/on-time. Given my long commute, I fill my gas-tank pretty much every other day, and this morning was one of the fill-days. Now, the station I typically use is just before I get on the freeway, about 8 miles or so from our house, just because it's right on the way, and I don't have to go even a block out of my way to get in and out. Plus, the 8 miles gives me that much more of a cushion for not risking running out of gas on the way to/from work; my margin for error on two days' commuting versus miles-per-tankful fluctuates between maybe 10 miles in wintertime, to maybe 50 or so in summer, depending on how much I run the A/C. So anyway, I pulled into the station, popped open my gas-door, and reached for my wallet to grab my gas-card to slide in the self-serve pump.
And I had forgotten my wallet. AGAIN!!
I couldn't believe it. What part of my brain had suddenly shriveled up the previous afternoon, so that I couldn't remember to bring my wallet with me on errands for which the one thing I needed was my wallet? My frustration was beginning to build.
I got back into the car, not even re-capping the fill spout, or closing the gas-door. I pulled back onto the road, headed back home, now completely certain that I would arrive late to work, by the time I added an extra 20-30 minutes to my drive, going home and then back to the gas station. I called Jen on my cell phone, to see if she could quickly locate my wallet, so I wouldn't have to spend more time looking for it when I arrived back home. She didn't answer. I called the house phone; still no answer. I couldn't understand why she wasn't picking up, so I blew up her phone for a minute or two, trying to prod her into answering my urgent call. You know, if I call you 20 times in a minute-and-a-half, that lets you know that my call is REALLY important, right?
Still no answer. And I'm getting more frustrated with each passing second. Suddenly, in my rear-view mirror, I see a car pulling out onto the main road, with a thin light-bar on top. I check the speedometer; I'm going 70+ in a 55 zone. Crap. Then, suddenly, my blood runs cold. I don't have my wallet! Which means, no driver's license, either. I mean, how good is that? I've only got to avoid the attention of the police for about 10 minutes, until I can get to my wallet, and I couldn't even do that.
There's another car between me and the cop. Maybe he was just pulling out onto the road routinely, and hadn't gotten a radar read on me. I notice that, in my haste to leave the gas station and return home, I hadn't fastened my seat belt, either. So, while slowing to a legal 55-mph, I quietly pull my seat belt out and fasten it, while I'm still obscured behind the intervening car.
As soon as I fasten my belt, the cop car speeds up and passes the car between us, then pulls in directly behind me. Crap. I'm toast. Sure enough, the red-and-blue lights commence flashing, and I pull over. I start sorting through the glovebox for my vehicle registration and proof-of-insurance, and then I sort through five out-dated copies of each, to find the current copies, which, thankfully, are present and accounted for.
The officer, a woman, approached my window. "How are you doing today, sir?" she asks, casually, yet with a no-BS edge.
"Pretty lousy, just at the moment," I admitted, handing her the registration and insurance cards.
"I also need to see your Driver's License, sir," she says.
"Yeah," I said, "and that's my biggest problem." I told her the whole story, how I was late for work, and needed to fill my car, then discovered when I got to the gas station that I had neglected to put my wallet into my pants this morning, and so I was returning home to retrieve my wallet, and that's where my license was, and heavy sigh, and (thinking to myself) I am such a moron. . . (and hoping that the gas cap hanging stupidly down from the side of my car might corroborate my story. . .)
"So. . ." she says, seeing if she got my story right, "you have a valid Driver's License, you just don't have it on your person?"
"That is correct, officer."
"OK; hang on. I'm gonna check it out, and be back in a few minutes."
It probably only seemed like she was gone for three days, during which time, all manner of nightmare scenarios are roiling in my brain. Speeding, for sure, that's why she stopped me in the first place; that'll be $120 or so, depending on how fast she caught me going. No license; I don't even know what I might get dinged for that. And I still don't know whether or not she saw my surreptitious engagement of my seat belt; if she had, I could get slapped for that, too. Dollars and violation-points danced gleefully around my head, singing, "Nyah-nyah-nyah, you're a moron!"
"Shut the hell up," I snarled at the ghostly bills, which were mockingly flapping their tiny wings.
Finally, the officer returned to my window, handing me back my registration and insurance cards, and exhaling heavily, while I tried to stifle a cringe.
"I caught you going 69 in a 55-zone," she said. "So, it could have been a lot worse."
Could have been worse. . . Yup-yup-yup, it sure could've been, right you are, officer.
"I'm going to give you a verbal warning. Slow down, and try to remember to carry your wallet with you, OK?"
"You got it, officer!" I felt my whole body go numb, buzzing with an adrenaline rush. I pulled the car back onto the road, travelling at 54.9 mph. I got back to the house, and no-one was home. I found my wallet with a minute's effort, tucked it into my hip pocket, and got back in the car, heading back to the gas station.
About halfway there, my cell phone rang. It was Jen. "What happened?!?" she asked. "Why did you call me 20 times? I was at daily Mass, so my phone was turned off." Of course; that's my wife. Sometimes she can be so annoying, being all holy an' stuff like that. . . ;)
I told her the whole story, and she laughed, once I'd gotten to the 'warning' part. By the time I finished telling the story, I was pulling into the gas station once more. I signed off with the hope that the rest of the day might go a little better.
"Well," she chirped, "it's already going better - you didn't get the ticket. And you didn't run out of gas!"
I shuddered. Running out of gas. . . In all the excitement, I hadn't even thought of that. . .